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Review: Not All is Lost For TV3 – Teina Pora Speaks Out in 3D’s Debut

Alex Casey reviews the debut episode of TV3’s new current affairs show 3D, wherein Teina Pora gave his first on-camera interview since his release from prison. 

After a rough week post-Campbell fallout, TV3 ended on somewhat of a high with their new Sunday current affairs show 3D. With award-winning journalists Samantha Hayes and Duncan Garner at the helm, albeit slightly awkwardly standing and swaying, 3D suggests that possibly all is not lost under the iron fist of MediaWorks. Hoping for a new approach to current affairs, the episode featured the wrongfully-convicted Teina Pora’s first onscreen interview with Paula Penfold since his release from prison.

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I recall Paul Penfold’s speech at the Wintec Press Club about the lengthy campaign to free Teina Pora, and the role that her investigative team had in the process. From the constant televising of his police interview footage to the on-camera stake-outs accosting paid-off family members – all played a tremendous part in the journey to justice.

3D‘s coverage of Pora’s story on Sunday was moving, inspiring and angering – a sound reminder of the importance of this exact sort of considered, challenging and exceptionally long-haul journalism. We may be losing John Campbell, but don’t abandon all hope just yet. As TV3 gently drowns in reality, 3D could be the much-needed glimmering beacon out at sea.

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The story shows a previously unseen side to Pora – a gentle, thoughtful, loving man. We go with him for a dip down to the beach, “I don’t have to hear doors, all I hear is waves”. We go inside his kitchen as he bakes with his 24 year-old daughter and her son. She was two years old when he went to jail, wrongfully charged for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett. They joke about banana cake, arguing about batter levels and flouring the dish. He’s active, engaging, and funny, determined to just “have a normal night with my daughter and my grandson”.

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In the full sit-down interview itself, Pora is given time to let his words breathe, every new sentence a revelation. He talks of forgiveness, love and – quite rightly – how the police involved were “pricks”. A meeting with Susan Burdett’s brother shows the support that he had from even the most closely-affected, with the camera respectfully backing away to give the pair much-needed space. His story is treated with the patience and respect that he should have been given 22 years ago.

The first episode of 3D was compelling, thought-provoking and overwhelmingly human. The only jarring component I found was the bookending of the story from the studio set. Or the need for a set at all. Hayes and Garner are on screen for a whopper two minutes, but I’m assuming they will have bigger roles depending on the weekly stories. Having them return at the end of the episode-long interview made it seem like they had been standing there, silently swaying, the whole time.

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3D’s debut was strong, but I’d suggest that TV3 get Dunc and Sam a couple of chairs and whack down a desk. Sadly, I know of one that’s about to be free very soon…

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Click here to watch the full episode of 3D

Donate to the Teina Pora Whanau Trust here